How Oil & Gas Suppliers Can Enhance Customer Relations in 2015
According to a late 2014 report titled “The Future of Customer Service” compiled by TrendWatching, when 1,620 consumers were tested under laboratory conditions, 63% said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service. For 53% of the individuals tested, receiving great service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved. That study provides the following takeaway: When it comes to customer service, it’s not about what consumers think. A great experience is about how they feel.
Great customer experiences produce great business results. Those who earn passionate customer advocates by delivering an experience competitors can’t match is how companies lead their industries in profitable organic growth. In 2015, we will see a rise of new advancements in customer experience technologies that will allow oil and gas suppliers to offer enhanced service to their customers while increasing their chances of remaining competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.
It’s important to remember that while these rapid advancements are exciting, the core fundamentals of great service remain the same. For customers, it has and will always be about feeling recognized, heard and valued. With many customers increasing their expectations, smart companies will implement new technologies that serve these traditional imperatives.
According to an Accenture Global Consumer Trends Survey, in 2013, 55% of consumers switched brands or businesses due to poor customer service, a 4% increase from the previous year. 82% of those who switched said the company could have done something to stop them. Customers, now more than ever, feel empowered to make a switch, knowing that if a current company or service is not providing them with adequate attention and recognition, someone else in the marketplace will.
TrendWatching’s “The Future of Customer Service” report details several trends that are shaping the future of customer service and experience across all sectors. Outlined below are highlights of the most relevant trends to oil and gas suppliers who strive to be more customer centric and lead their industries in growth.
Companies Will Begin to Implement Plan B Options to Confront Pain Points
It’s important that companies are equipped with their own Plan B option. Over the past few years there has been an ongoing, powerful shift in consumer empowerment and expectations. A host of factors are driving that shift such as the rise of the sharing economy, increasingly busy customers and the relentless new-ism that leaves consumers hungry for a constant stream of new products and features.
In 2015, customer-centric products and services will begin to realize the importance of offering a Plan B to their products to deal with these increased expectations. A Plan B is defined as a service or product that provides access when needed to an alternative which overcomes limitations in the original. A product or service that in essence puts right an emergency and addresses a common pain point.
As an example, the report points to BMW. When the car company released its all electric BMWi3, they also allowed buyers to gain access to gas powered vehicles at no additional charge. This helped to ease customer concern over purchasing a type of vehicle they may not have owned in the past and a vehicle in which they may have limited familiarity.
Taking the concept of Plan B one step further, oil and gas suppliers should begin to be more open about internally discussing their product limitations and their customer’s true pain points. It may make sense for suppliers to partner with other services companies to offer alternatives, in the event that they can’t.
A Shift in the Increase in the Adoption of Customer Valued Technologies
Millions of customers worldwide are becoming increasingly impatient when it comes to ineffective customer assistance via web or phone. With customers taking advantage of on-demand face time and video conferencing for years, suppliers should begin to catch up in 2015 by utilizing readily available technology. The marketplace overall will see more forward thinking companies provide webcam enabled face-to-face interaction with customer service representatives, account managers and more.
As an example of how successful this tactic can be, consider Amazon who has implemented a Mayday button on their Kindle Hire HDX tablet. This button connects tablet owners with an Amazon customer service rep via webcam technology. Amazon calculates that among tablet owners, 75% of all customer service interactions now arrive via the button.
Many companies across all sectors are beginning to take advantage of free video and webcam services for more than just interoffice and business use. With Google Hangouts already adopted by many customers, it’s a great outlet for suppliers who are looking to test the waters.
Customer Centered Suppliers Will be Data and Information Driven
Smart sensors, Google Analytics, face and object recognition technologies and CRM software all allow companies to gather and analyze information about consumers as well as their location, preferences, habits and even purchasing histories in real time and like never before. These technologies, while extremely applicable in retail environments, will become even more essential in day to day marketing, sales and customer service activities for all companies and in all sectors who wish to become customer centered.
The report points out that customers have been creating and trailing data online for years now and they are extremely accustomed to seeing that data used to personalize the products they buy. The current shift in customer expectations has revealed that more and more customers wish to see this real-time data shape and enhance the service that they receive. According to IBM, in 2014, 36% of global customers were willing to share their current location with companies via GPS – that’s almost double the number in the previous year and proves that customers are willing to exchange their data and a small part of their privacy for superior and customized service.
Smart oil and gas suppliers have already begun to use CRM platforms and Google Analytics but should strive to place an emphasis on analyzing this data to enhance their customer relations. Suppliers will benefit a great deal from identifying, collecting and utilizing the overabundance of information that is available to them.
Smart Companies Will Realize the Impact of Positive Customer Interaction
With the company and consumer relationship democratized like never before, it’s important for companies to realize that demands in a relationship can go both ways. Current customers often have the largest impact on the buying decision of potential customers. In 2015, smart suppliers should begin experimenting with encouraging their current customer base to do their part in creating a positive atmosphere and brand image. Suppliers can begin by asking current customers to share testimonials via social channels or for reviews or case studies on the impact of their services.
It’s important to remember that customers don’t see the web of organization and processes that hide behind the scenes to deliver their experiences. Smart suppliers should embrace this perspective when shaping and enhancing their customer relations in 2015.
Mary Wardley, Vice President of CRM Applications and Customer Experience at the International Data Corporation summarized a recent report on customer experience with the following, “Placing the customer at the center of the business decisions is at the heart of a customer experience driven company philosophy.” In 2015, we will see many companies rethink their businesses strategies when it comes to the way that they engage with potential and current customer bases and will be placing an emphasis on enhancing their own personas in an effort to respond to the need to provide a stand-out customer experience. Now more than ever because of increased customer demands, expectations and industry pain points, supplier market differentiation is being defined by who an organization is and how they interact with their prospects and customers.
3 Ways E&P Companies Can Curb Costs & Drive Efficiency With An ePayables Platform
January 22, 2015 – 2015 will be a challenging year for the oil and gas industry. E&P companies have been hit hard over the past few months as a result of the substantial drop in oil prices. Most have reacted by adjusting their capital spending in some capacity, and we’ve also seen some entities begin to experiment with pay adjustments and in some cases, implement staff restructuring plans.
In a recent report, Steven Wood, Managing Director of Corporate Finance at Moody’s, predicted that if oil prices can find their way back up to around $75 a barrel in 2015, North American E&P companies could get away with reducing their capital spending by only 20% from last year. However, if the price does not improve most E&P companies may need to look into cutting their spending by 30 or even 40%. As a result of these reductions, most companies are ramping up their efforts to reserve their cash flow and curb costs as they gear up to weather the new year. No one knows for sure where the cost of oil will end up in 2015, but it’s wise for organizations to begin to adopt a companywide focus on analysis, cost savings and efficiency.
Implementing an oil and gas focused ePayables software platform may be worth looking into if your organization is looking for a proven way to contain costs this year. Below are three ways in which an ePayables software platform can assist your organization with cost containment, productivity and efficiency.
Dive into Modern Efficiency
Accounting software can transform labor-intensive manual tasks such as scanning and coding into a process that takes only a few moments. In 2014, the average cost to manually process a single invoice was $14.21. A reliable oil and gas ePayables platform contributes to processing costs that can be 60-80% less than manual and paper-based methods*.
Better Visibility and Control over Your Precious Cash
By using an ePayables platform, your organization will be able to process invoices and export data with fewer clicks, providing better visibility and control over the accounts payable process. With this clearer visibility and reduced processing time, your organization can avoid late payments and the fees associated with them. In addition, enhanced visibility provides more insight into cash flow and allows your finance team to be more strategic in their payment process. This ensures that your organization pays on time and has the option to take advantage of early pay discounts. In fact, it’s not uncommon for companies to pay for their entire ePayables platform with the money they save by utilizing early pay discounts alone.
Keep the Ones You Depend on Happy
When using an ePaybles platform organizations experience reduced instances of lost invoices, late payments and inaccuracies which helps to safeguard supplier relationships. Automation is key to connecting you with your supplier while driving efficiency and productivity for both parties. Maintaining a positive relationship with the suppliers you depend on is priceless; this is why a good ePayables platform will provide comprehensive onboarding, training, and customer support to your suppliers at no cost to them.
It’s clear that 2015 will be a challenging year for all professionals and organizations within the oil and gas sector. However, by exploring technology that can help to curb costs and drive efficiency, it also stands to be an opportunity for transformation. Please feel free to join Oildex’s newest group on LinkedIn, Oil & Gas Industry Focus, to continue the conversation.
*Ardent Partners, “ePayables 2014: The Quest.” This figure represents a fully loaded cost of processing an invoice, including costs related to AP staff time, managerial overhead, facilities and IT support.
Reopening Relations with Cuba and the Impact on Oil & Gas
December 30, 2014 – Last week, President Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba as well as the opening of the first embassy in Havana in more than half a century. The unexpected announcement and historic turning point came at the end of a reported 18 months of secret talks negotiated with the help of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis encouraged the talks with a series of letters written to both President Obama and Mr. Castro. He also asked that the Vatican host a meeting in October of this year to finalize the terms of the deal. In a phone call lasting over 45 minutes, President Obama discussed the agreement with Mr. Castro. This communication represented the first direct and substantive contact between the two countries in more than 50 years.
"We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between two countries," Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal, he added, will "begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas" and move beyond a "rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born."
As diplomatic relations warm between the two countries, oil and gas companies may already be beginning to set their sights on the large oil reserves off Cuba's coast. As it stands, Cuba produces about 50,000 barrels per day of oil and relies on Venezuela for around another 100,000 bpd. However, Venezuela is just one of the many countries feeling the pain from the overwhelming drop in oil prices. Cuban officials reportedly want to avoid the impact of a sudden drop in Venezuelan support and the commitment by Cuba and the U.S. to normalize relations may allow Cuba to buy more oil on the open market. The restoration of relations may also mean that U.S. companies will be able to bring expertise and experience to tap into the country's offshore reserves.
Pavel Molchanov, an energy company analyst with Raymond James reports "there is not going to be a Cuban oil rush." It is likely that Cuba's 124 million barrels will remain inaccessible as previous offshore efforts by Brazilian and Malaysian companies have yielded varied but overall unsuccessful results. However, there is the possibility that the arrival of US oil and gas firms could help boost production through better drilling technologies. If companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger provided technological assistance to Cuba, the country could significantly increase the amount of oil it gains from its current wells. Jorge Pinon, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Energy program at the University of Texas, suggests that this could be beneficial to Cuba as they may face increased hardships if falling oil prices continue to hurt Venezuela.
ThinkProgress reports that a major leap into Cuban oil may be doubtful for economic or geological reasons but, there may be a benefit in the increase in safety measures and precautions in the drilling and refining that does take place there, including responses to any spills. Cuba borders the Gulf of Mexico and is susceptible to offshore disasters. If President Obama is successful in normalizing relations with Cuba, which means lifting the embargo, spill containment equipment developed to deal with drilling and refining accidents would not be held up as they currently are.
Lawmakers in the Republican controlled Congress have made it very clear in the last week that they will resist lifting the 54-year old trade embargo. At the moment, the President has the support nearly 6 in 10 Americans, the Catholic Church, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Watch and major agricultural interest groups.
As President Obama gave his speech on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, Mr. Castro spoke simultaneously on Cuban television announcing that "we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations." He declared. President's Obama's decision deserves the respect and acknowledgement of our people."
Mr. Castro also discussed the reopening of diplomatic relations. "This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been resolved," he said. "The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease." But, he added, "the progress made in our exchange proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems."
The future of oil and gas in Cuba is uncertain for the first time in over 50 years, the door is open.
Highlights from IDC's FutureScape: Worldwide Oil & Gas 2015 Predictions Report
December 19, 2014 – IT advisory firm, IDC, recently released their latest FutureScape report for the oil and gas sector. These annual reports are used to shape IT strategy and planning for the industry by providing a basic framework for evaluating IT initiatives in terms of their value to business strategy now and in the foreseeable future. In their report, IDC identified the top key drivers and decision imperatives for the oil and gas industry. Key drivers point out the challenges that the sector faces while decision imperatives are designed to address these pending challenges with a focus on the impact to CIO's and senior technology professionals.
With rapid oil price decreases and marketplace volatility, increased pressure has been put on expansion plays and profitability.
Past workforce decisions are perpetuating a skills shortage which will require a focus on next generation human resources. Adding to this social driver is the fact that rapid delivery of information (especially health, safety and environmental impact information) via the internet and social channels can adversely impact the reputation of an organization.
The rise in market penetration of smart devices, sensors and IP enabled equipment increases data volumes and computing requirements for organizations while rapid adoption of third platform technologies across many industries and consumers raises productivity expectations.
In addition to focusing on emissions, safety and water management, organizations must also take into account the adherence to multiple fracking regulations which differ based on area, state, country and region.
Development and production costs remain high and uneconomical and large capital investments continue to be risky. In addition, divestitures, mergers and acquisitions activity has increased with companies having to settle on core competencies.
80% of the top oil and gas companies will reengineer processes and systems to optimize logistics, hedge risk and efficiently and safely deliver crude, LNG and refined products by the end of the 2017.
Organizations will expect information to be available to help companies control "controllable risk" in pipeline, rail, LNG, truck and oil tanker shipping. Information needs to take into account physical limitations, local regulations and should be in real time. This is especially important when it comes to foreign shale plays as there is a lack of pipeline infrastructure and transportation. IT should strive to revisit existing ETRM and ERP capabilities for handling logistics.
Over the next 3 years, 40% of oil and gas majors and all software divisions of oilfield services (OFS) will co-innovate on domain specific technical projects with IT professional service firms.
There will be an increased expectation that IT becomes a co-innovation partner and their role will shift from builders to managers of deliverables. In order to prepare for this, organizations should begin to plan for a shift in internal resource capabilities. They should hire managers with a business and technical background to ensure that service firms are performing work using the technology appropriate to the needs to exploration, production and pipeline business.
The CEO will expect immediate and accurate information about top shale plays to be available by the end of 2015 to improve asset value by 30%.
Knowledge about reservoir behavior needs to be better understood by all departments, including IT. Land, lease and mineral rights across multiple tracks create complexity for contracts, invoicing and settlement. This complexity can be resolved through the use of reliable systems such as software, workflow, data services and geo-spatial displays that assure compliance.
By the end of 2015, 70% of oil and gas companies will have invested in programs to evolve the IT environment to a third platform driven architecture to support agility and readily adapt to change.
IT will begin to be expected to evolved current architectures to be more resilient. IT can accomplish this by building out a foundation for a new enterprise architecture that include third platform technologies which revolved around big data, analytics, mobility, could and social business.
With continued labor shortages and over 1/3 of the oil and gas workforce under 44 in three years, oil and gas companies will turn to IT to meet productivity goals.
Organizations will look to IT to address skills shortages, including automation, skills matching, knowledge sharing and training. In order for IT to fill in the gap, organizations must examine their processes which can be automated and estimate the costs and business benefits for justification.
By the end of 2017, 100% of the top 24 oil and gas companies will apply modeling and simulation tools and services to optimize oil field development programs and 25% will require these tools.
Optimizing well location will depend on gaining intelligence on the most productive wells which is why it's important for organizations to be ready to issue RFP's for modeling, simulation and optimization tools to support oil field development.
Spending on connectivity related technologies will increase by 30% between 2014 and 2016, as oil and gas companies demand vendors provide the right balance of connectivity for a more complex set of data sources.
Despite greater instrumentation, connectivity with requisite latency and bandwidth remains an issue in remote locations. Continue the dialogue with vendors to get a win-win in satisfying your needs for affordability, latency, connectivity, storage and security. In addition, stay current with the maturity of instrumentation and computing at "the edge" vs. the cost of connectivity and storage for more centralized computing.
In 2015, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, plus new integrated capabilities, will dive 40% of oil and gas companies to re-evaluate their current deployments of ERP and hydrocarbon accounting.
Rapidly growing mid-tier companies continue to scale up ERP to accommodate organic and inorganic growth and compliance requirements and will expect IT to reduce costs while continuing to innovate. IT should examine current financial application for scalability, visibility to global performance, production accounting capabilities and compliance (reporting, royalties, and taxes) for relevant geographies.
With a business case built on predictive analytics and optimization in drilling, production and asset integrity, 50% of oil and gas companies will have advances analytics capabilities in place by 2016.
Independents, midstream companies, and a few major and mid-tier oil field services companies lack basic data management protocols and procedures to effectively use analytics. To address this, organizations should start by no later than mid-2015 to establish robust technical data management, based on accepted data protocols where available.
With pressure on capital efficiency, by 2014, 25% of the top 25 oil and gas companies will apply integrated planning and information to large capital projects, speeding up delivery and reducing over-budget risks by 30%.
For better planning, a tightly integrated technology and systems environment including virtual reality and other modeling tools for simulation and process optimization will be needed.
You can read the entire report here.
Oildex Sponsors Massive Upstream Oil & Gas Conference, P2 ASCEND 2014
November 21, 2014 – Oildex was proud to be a sponsor of the highly anticipated P2 ASCEND conference which was held this week in Grapevine, Texas at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center. The annual user conference brings together influential oil and gas industry professionals, exclusive keynote speakers and vendors for training, networking and discussion.
The event included a keynote address from Charles Goodman, President and CEO of P2 Energy Solutions. Many other speakers and panelists were in attendance including Jill Feblowitz, recognized thought leader on the application of information technology in the energy industry and Mike Rogers, who had previously served as a senior advisor to the US Secretary of Energy and currently leads the Americas Petroleum, Electric Power and Natural Gas Practices.
The conference served as fantastic opportunity for Oildex to connect with potential customers from the top 50 and 100 E&P companies. Oildex used the occasion to introduce attendees to our robust product suite and to showcase the exciting new capabilities of our Spendworks and CDEX products which were developed this year. These developments include: enhanced user experiences, certified integration with SAP ERP 6.0, the introduction of SmartMapping technology, discount functionality, mobile invoice approval and an improved eInvoicing platform for suppliers.
The Oildex Spendworks product has implemented impressive efficiencies and cost savings for more than 25 P2 client companies. Representatives from these companies joined us for an exclusive wine tasting event on the last evening of the conference to learn more about Oildex, it's products and the exciting advancements that are in store for 2015. The event was a massive success and allowed Oildex and attendees to network, unwind and sample some of the best of local Texas wines.
P2 is a provider of software, geospatial data and land management tools to the upstream oil and gas industry.
Oildex Receives Top Remarks for Their First Community Conference
September 22, 2014 – Last week, Oildex held our first community conference in the beautiful Beaver Creek, Colorado. We had a great turn out and were thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with our customers, suppliers, and partners as we discussed Oildex products and the oil and gas industry trends. The conference provided a forum for frank product discussions and networking events to connect members of our user base with the Oildex team.
We were able to hear from esteemed speakers such as; Executive Director at NARO, Jerry Simmons, Terry Thomas from Schlumberger, expert hacker and security specialist Ayo Adeusi from Solutions ii, Roy Queener, Senior Manager at Quorum Business Solutions and Dawn Ferik from Bill Barrett Corporation. Our keynote speaker Michael Rogers, “The Practical Futurist,” led a great discussion on where the oil and gas business is heading by the year 2020.
During the conference, we were able to showcase the product roadmap for Oildex and the technology enhancements that we have planned for 2015. This gave us the opportunity to discuss the industry at large and to learn what our customers need and care about. We found that their business concerns included:
- Hiring and retaining staff in the energy industry
- Collaborating in a complex supply chain
- The need for access to quick data that can help them make business decisions
- Increasing reliance on mobile devices and being able to do business from the field
- "Excellent content, great networking opportunities and the resort was beautiful."
- "Oildex was very prepared and knowledgeable, well worth the money."
- “We really enjoyed getting to obtain a better understanding of our company’s use of the product and meeting the Oildex team.”
Oildex is excited to help our customers address their concerns and objectives in the coming year, and we look forward to connecting and automating the entire oil and gas supply chain.